Session 2: The Road to Ashburn
With Sandpoint ablaze and goblins attacking that were…more driven…than typical goblins, all wearing amulets with the symbols of Asgoroth, there was little time for the party to consider options. Deftly, the group slayed the group threatening the orphanage alongside Cragganor.
At Stormhelm’s behest, they escaped north, on their way to Ashburn, to speak to Thorngar, a Halfling Major, to inform him of the goblin attack.
The group left at noon for the five-day long journey. The first two days went by uneventfully, and they kept a steady pace. The third night, however, while keeping watch, Oris the Deva Invoker was thrown into a chaotic nightmare. Cyric, The Mad God, was dancing in an opulent ballroom randomly killing guests. As Oris frantically questioned the God, unable to surmise this scene was fantasy, he went to the aid of a felled female guest. During his futile attempt, the guest handed him an amulet which, when he grabbed it, emblazoned the symbol of Asgaroth on his hand. It pulsed with a fiendish power.
Almost in full panic, since recent experience has shown that this mark seemingly causes other beings to lose sense of their faculties and blindly follow Asgaroth’s will, Oris asked Cyric what to do. Cyric, cryptically, informed Oris to follow the symbol. As it turns out, upon awakening, the symbol remained on his hand – this was in actuality an magic compass, which would point the party towards Asgoroth, and was granted to the party in a way only Cyric could possibly dream up.
On the third day around 11:05 AM, the party encountered an old man guiding a donkey, the beast of burden lugging substantial heft. It was clear the tinker knew a bit of magic, with the way he presented his wares.
The party inquired about restorative items, and the tinker stated that he had two healing potions. Whittlebert the Gnome Rogue roguishly bluffed a random rock from the ground as having magical properties. The trade was quickly made, both parties pleased with the outcome.
Ryallyn the Elf Hunter, wily and cunning, seduced the tinker and provided him…oral recompense…to relieve him of his second position. The trade was quickly made, with one party clearly more pleased with the outcome.
His mood substantially lifted, the tinker was willing to bargain for a Bag of Holding, for the javelins and spears looted from the goblins back in Sandpoint plus, the prize of the deal, the horn which seemed to have a power over rats (and clearly was cursed in some fashion). The tinker, satisfied with the day’s business, went along his way, playing a tune upon the horn.
While resting at the end of the day’s travel, however, the horn music remained closeby. Many in the party were awakened by its eerie tune. Strangely enough, it sounded miles away.
On the fourth day, the party passed a quaint farmhouse on the outskirts of Ashburn, to the west about 1/4th of a mile from the road. It was at some point set ablaze, but remained standing as the fire was rapidly subsiding. The more deft of the party members went to investigate in stealth. They came upon a macabre scene as they looked through the windows – the farming family had been slaughtered. They were speared on weapons and spikes, posed in a large room of the farmhouse as if dancing. Their blood was spilled throughout the home.
Despite the compromised structural integrity, Whittlebert the Gnome Rogue stepped gingerly inside the home. On a wall inside, he saw evidence of goblins. In Common tongue, written in the family’s blood, was the cryptic phrase, “Asgoroth is true. Cyric is false.”
The splinter group returned to the road to deliver the doleful news. With sorrow, Oris the Deva Invoker and Trilovian the Dragonborn Cleric went to the farmhouse to give them their last rites. Because the house was practically ready to collapse, they were unable to enter and remove the family members from their poses to grant them some semblance of dignity in death.
After the harrowing discovery, the fourth night brought further torment – three hours into their rest, the playing of the rat horn sold to the tinker was shocking close. In fact, on the outskirts of the campsite, the party was roused to find the tinker, without donkey in tow, clearly entranced. The look in his eyes was exactly the same as that on Whittlebert when they first heard the horn play. And also similar to that day, there was a swarm of rats. And they were ready for a fight.
As the party dealt with the swarm, Nerium the Minotaur Avenger focused his attacks on the tinker. The party agreed that the best way to end this fight would likely be to stop the playing which was had the rats in a trance. Eventually, his attacks came to fruition, and he decapitated the tinker. The rats promptly scattered when the music ended. Relieved, they took what the tinker no longer had use for (including the horn), and lamented that the donkey, and all those potentially precious items the tinker had in tow, were now lost somewhere in the wilderness between Sandpoint and Ashburn.
On the fifth day, as the party drew closer to Ashburn proper, a patrol of horsemen 20 strong approached from the north. To the clear leader of the band, the party explained where they were from, the purpose of their travel, and included the scene at the farm house close by.
The leader informed the group that goblin attacks have become more frequent, and shockingly still, despite the walled garrison in Ashburn, somehow the goblins were getting into the city clandestinely, without penetrating or otherwise compromising the stone wall or its ample defenses. Ashburn was flabbergasted.
The patrol, since the party had official business with Major Thorngar, by way of Cragganor, offered to lead them to Ashburn. They willingly accepted the escort.
Upon entering the town, the party decided, prior to their audience with the Major, that they would alleviate themselves of the loot they accumulated during their recent adventure, as well as visit a Mage Guild in town in attempt to identify their magical items.
While none of the gems found were magical, they did fetch a fair price. The boots seemed to grant the wearer a bit of extra speed, while the dagger seemed to magically cut with slightly better precision. The ring granted the wearer with a slight shield from blows. However, to their surprise, the “potions of healing” were nothing more than cranberry juice. The tinker had gotten the last laugh, clearly. What was left of the remorse they held for trading the tinker the horn, which lead to his undoing, was swiftly dissolved by this discovery.
One of the mages, unsurprisingly, informed the party that the horn was cursed, and that only an Arch Mage would know how to destroy it, if it was even possible. And the closest Arch Mage was far, far east, in a city the mage has only heard of in passing and could not recall the name of.
The mage also informed them that the stone amulet of Asgoroth was one he was rather familiar with – they have been finding them on the goblins that were attacking Ashburn and the surrounding countryside, and it was clear that they were able to control the minds of weak-minded creatures. Also, all the mage could decipher from the “compass” on Oris’ hand was “powerful magic”. He knew nothing more.
Exhausted from their travels, their business transactions complete, and eager for a proper bed and meal, the group made their way to the inn.
EXP: ??? (I need to start making a note of this…)
LOOT: See Nerium, the Treasure Trove Minotaur